Anna meets her friend Pete in a coffee shop. Pete needs a job. Can Anna help him to find the right job for him?
In this video, you can practice saying the new words and learn how to ask questions when you do not understand someone clearly.
This video teaches about the shortened form of cannot and the two ways to pronounce can.
Anna: Hi, there! Washington, D.C. is a great place to work. Many people here work in government and politics. But there are many other jobs. You can work at a hospital; a university. You can work in a coffee shop. Wait a minute, I think I see a friend of mine. Pete? Is that you?
Pete: Hi, Anna.
Anna: You look different. Your beard … is really big.
Pete: You don’t like it, do you?
Anna: No, no. You just look … different.
(To server) Thank you. So, what’s wrong? You look sad.
Pete: I don’t have a job.
Anna: Sorry, I can’t hear you.
Pete: I do not have a job!
Anna: Oh. I’m sorry to hear that, Pete.
Pete: I don’t have a skill.
Anna: Everyone has a skill. You need to find yours.
Pete: I don’t know, Anna.
Anna: Pete, I am good at asking questions. Let me ask you some.
Pete: Really, Anna? Can you help me?
Anna: Yes, I can. Let me help.
Pete: Sure, Anna. Maybe you can help.
Anna: Can you write code?
Pete: Sure, c-o-l-d. How is this going to help?
Anna: No, not “cold.” Code; you know, for making phone apps, or websites. You can make tons of money writing code.
Pete: Tons of money? But I can’t code.
Anna: Next question. Can you drive?
Pete: Do you mean drive a race car? It’s really hard to be a race car driver. First, you need a race car ...
Anna: No, I mean drive a taxi or drive a bus.
Pete: No, I always fall asleep when I drive.
Anna: Oh, that’s not good. Next question. Can you teach? You can be a teacher in a school.
Pete: No, I cannot teach.
Anna: Can you cook? You can be a chef in a restaurant.
Pete: No, I can’t code! I can’t teach! I can’t cook! Anna, I can’t do anything. This is sad. I’m gonna write about my feelings in my blog.
Anna: You write a blog?
Pete: Yeah, I write a blog.
Anna: How many followers do you have?
Pete: I don’t know … 59,538.
Anna: Pete, that's a lot of followers! You can make money writing!
Pete: Writing is easy. Everyone can write.
Anna: Not everyone can write well. You can be a writer!
Pete: I can be a writer. I can be a writer! I can be a writer! Thanks, Anna.
Marsha: Hi, Pete. Hi, Anna.
Pete: Hi, Marsha. Excuse me, I have to go.
Marsha: Where are you going?
Pete: I’m going to be a writer!
Marsha: Good luck, Pete!
(To Anna) He does know that it’s not easy to be a writer, doesn’t he?
Anna: There are many different jobs you can have in Washington, D.C. Pete wants to be a writer. I wish him luck. Lots of luck. Until next time!
In this lesson, Anna is helping her friend Pete. He needs to find a new job. How do you try to help your friends? Write to us to tell us about the ways you help your friends. Send us an email or write in the Comments section.
Use the Activity Sheet to practice talking about jobs and skills.
Learning Strategies are the thoughts and actions that help make learning easier or more effective.
The learning strategy for this lesson isidentify problems. When we are talking with someone in English it helps to identify problems in understandingandget the information we need to correct the problems.
In the video for this lesson, there are three problems. Here are two of them.
1. Anna identifies one problem. Pete is not talking loud enough. She tells Pete. "Sorry, I can’t hear you." Pete speaks more loudly so she can hear him.
2. Later, Pete does not understand Anna. He asks, "Do you mean drive a race car?" Anna explains that she means to "drive a taxi or drive a bus."
Can you find another time in the video when Anna or Pete identifies a problem? Write to us in the Comments section or send us an email. Teachers, see the Lesson Plan for more details on teaching this strategy.
Test your understanding by taking the listening quiz. Listen to the short video, then choose the best answer.
app - n. a computer program that performs a particular task (such as word processing)
beard – n. the hair that grows on a man's cheeks and chin
blog - n. a Web site on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences
chef - n. a professional cook who usually is in charge of a kitchen in a restaurant
code - n. - a set of instructions for a computer
code - v. to change (information) into a set of letters, numbers, or symbols that can be read by a computer
drive - v. to direct the movement of a vehicle such as a car, truck, or bus
easy - adj. not hard to do
follower - n. a person who likes and admires (someone or something) very much
good luck - expression. used to say that you hope someone will succeed
hard - adj. physically or mentally difficult
lot(s) or a lot (informal)lots -n. a large amount
hospital - n.a place where sick or injured people are given care or treatment and where children are often born
school - n. a place where children go to learn
taxi - n. a car that carries passengers to a place for an amount of money
teacher - n.a person or thing that teaches something
university - n. a school that offers courses leading to a degree and where research is done
website - n. a place on the World Wide Web that contains information about a person, organization, etc., and that usually consists of many Web pages joined by hyperlinks
Download the VOA Learning English Word Book for a dictionary of the words we use on this website.
Each Let's Learn English lesson has anActivity Sheet for extra practice on your own or in the classroom. In this lesson, you can use it to write the names of jobs and talk about what people do at work.
See theLesson Plan for this lesson for ideas and more teaching resources. Send us an email if you have comments on this course or questions.
Grammar focus: Expressing ability; Can & Can't; Contractions
Topics: Occupations and skills; Helping friends
Learning Strategy: Identify Problems
Speaking & Pronunciation Focus: Asking clarification questions; Pronouncing can & can’t
Now it's your turn. Send us an email or write to us in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page to let us know what you think of this lesson.
Learning a new language is always daunting, especially when that language is as full of weird rules and contradictions as English. Even native speakers sometimes have trouble mastering the nuances of tense and grammar. Fortunately, if English is not your first language, there are a variety of ESL resources online to help you master the English language. From speaking to writing, these tools will help you get a handle on English and give direction to your education and career. Don’t let the size of the task deter you from getting it done. Use these resources to become fluent in no time.
Grammar and Usage
Use these sites to boost your grammar skills, from verb tenses to noun placement.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: The OWL offers a comprehensive repository of practice sheets and linguistic primers for learners at all levels.
- Dave’s ESL Cafe: ESL teacher Dave Sperling’s in-depth site provides numerous lessons about sentence structure, word use, and more. It’s one of the best instructor-led websites for learning English.
- The English Learner Movie Guides: This site takes popular movies and uses their summaries and idioms to examine the English language. This site is ideal for ESL students with a love of U.S. culture.
- Wyzant Resources:
On this site, tutors share their knowledge and experience to help you learn to understand and recognize everything from a preposition to an irregular verb.
- Breaking News English: These inventive lesson plans teach ESL online by drawing inspiration from recent news and global affairs. Each lesson is packed with information about word usage, grammar, and more.
- ESL Lounge: ESL Lounge offers hundreds of language exercises, making this site ideal for students and scholars. Lessons in parts of speech and vocabulary are classified by difficulty.
- Activities for ESL Students: This pared-down website offers grammar quizzes at multiple degrees of difficulty, designed for learners from dozens of different linguistic backgrounds.
- Using English: This site offers a handy reference guide to major parts of speech and their usage, with bonus material for ESL instructors.
- 5-Minute English: This comprehensive site not only offers a variety of lessons and exercises, it also boasts links to other helpful ESL online programs, books, and schools.
- English, Baby!: ESL students can download MP3s, join chat rooms, take quizzes, and more on this useful site.
- English Forums: Get help from English speakers and other ESL online learners in the world’s largest ESL network. The site encourages students to speak up and ask questions.
Spelling and Pronunciation
These sites will help ESL online students learn how to speak or spell the English words they’ve been learning.
- English for Business: The BBC and the British Council have teamed up to offer lesson plans surrounding English for business, including topics like meeting- and negotiations-focused English lessons.
- Antimoon: This site helps students to learn to recognize common sounds in the English language and use correct intonation when speaking.
- English-Zone: English-Zone empowers students to take on English spelling, including possessives, verb-endings, contractions, and more.
- Learn That Word: Students can learn vocabulary and spelling through this site. They can even filter their lessons by commonly misspelled words or TOEFL vocabulary.
- BBC Learning English: This resource from the British channel offers a wide variety of lessons and tips for learning English, especially pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar skills.
- Oxford Online English: Free video and audio lessons emphasize pronunciation and provide helpful hints on how to listen to movies and television shows closely when vocabulary building.
- Funbrain: This site offers numerous games for kids to explore various academic subjects, but it is especially helpful for ESL students to make their reading lessons more fun. Tools include reading games and a spell check quiz to practice spelling.
Vocabulary and Writing
Building a vocabulary is one of the most important parts of mastering any language. These sites help students start building a sophisticated vocabulary, learning how to use words verbally and on paper.
- Cram Flash Card Exchange: This browser-based tool lets you study thousands of words, create your own flash cards, and sort cards based on category and native language.
- 20-Minute ESL Lessons: These audio lessons cover basic vocabulary for a variety of everyday situations, including office environments and corporate life.
- Vocabulary Can Be Fun: This site offers a variety of entertaining games designed to enhance vocabulary through the use of interactive play.
- Pizzaz: This site uses poems and short stories as writing examples, and features other unique exercises to teach creative writing and usage.
- ThoughtCo. English for Business & Work Vocabulary: ThoughtCo. offers a number of general resources for ESL online students in the area of business vocabulary, as well as lessons specific to several different industries.
- Aardvark’s English Forum: In the student section of this forum, you can read famous quotations, work your way through novels in English, and do interactive language exercises to better understand the written English language.
- Vocaboly: This site allows students to download a free trial of its vocabulary builder and then test their knowledge through an extensive selection of ESL Online quizzes.
Quizzes and Worksheets
Put your knowledge to the test with these helpful tools:
- Self-Study Quizzes for ESL Students: This site is exactly what it sounds like, offering self-study tests to help students learn grammar, challenging words, vocabulary, and more.
- English Club Vocabulary Quizzes: These word quizzes cover everything from animals and food to famous quotes and American slang.
- Advanced English Grammar Exercises: This plain website hosts dozens of detailed quizzes, searchable and filtered by topic.
- ESLgo.com Quiz Center: These grammar and vocabulary quizzes also pull double duty as history and grammar lessons. Make sure to check out the other useful resources on the rest of the site.
- ESL HQ: This site features access to hundreds of worksheets designed for students interested in learning and speaking English.
- iSL Collective: This ESL teachers’ forum is a great place to find worksheets for practice or to teach yourself English. Students can browse through hundreds of topics that have already been uploaded, and check back for frequent updates made by international instructors.
- EL Civics: EL Civics provides basic ESL lessons for individuals studying to become American citizens, with lessons on major events in U.S. history, the 50 states, recognized holidays, and more.
- EnglishExercises.org: For ESL students and teachers alike, this site contains hundreds of worksheets, quizzes, listening exercises, and puzzles for all skill levels. This includes both American and British English.
- English Media Lab: Perfect for kids, English Media Lab features a wide range of quizzes, videos, games, exercises, and other resources suitable for different learning styles.
These podcasts make great instructional tools for students on the go:
- ESLPod Podcast: Regular updates and easy categorization make this podcast a great resource for ESL students.
- LanguageCaster: As a vast majority of the non-English-speaking world is crazy about football (or “soccer” to Americans), this language site and podcast series use sporting news and analogies to explain the English language.
- China232: Two English-speaking brothers host this endearing podcast series, touching on North American language in the context of everyday culture and with a predisposition for young people’s interests.
- Culips: Billed as “a podcast for English learners throughout the world,” this comprehensive site tailors content to a variety of native languages. Hosts use news, history, and slang to break down the quirks of the English language.
- ESL Aloud: The lessons on this site range from basic word instruction to more complex scenarios like going to the store or working in an office.
- Podcasts in English: This site offers free podcasts to anyone looking to learn English. Podcasts can be filtered by skill level and subject so students can choose what type of lesson fits them best.
- British Council Learn English: The British Council provides four series of podcasts to help students learn the English language as well as practice their listening skills.
Dynamic, audio-visual lessons that you can both see and hear can make all the difference in learning conversational English skills. Check out these YouTube channels to get the experience of talking to someone face-to-face, and seize the opportunity to talk back!
- VOA Learning English: This Voice of America channel features news and human interest stories in American English, but spoken 33% slower than regular broadcast speed to make it easier to follow along. Through this method of immersive learning, students can explore a wide range of English vocabulary subjects.
- Listen and Read Along: This is exactly what it sounds like: listening to stories and reading along with them by following a highlighted word. Students can hear pronunciation and intonation while getting a better grasp on sentence structure within the English language.
- TOEFL TV: Here, students can get English-learning tips and learn about questions that appear on the TOEFL test.
- OMGmeiyu’s channel: On this site geared especially toward native Chinese-speakers, YouTube user OMGmeiyu uses her animated style and knowledge of Chinese to help native Chinese speakers learn English in a fun and relatable way.
- English with Jennifer: The host of this channel is an ideal ESL teacher for those who need more guidance than simply reading from websites. The user’s videos are separated into playlists covering vocabulary, verb tenses, pronunciation, and more.
- Rachel’s English: Host Rachel offers a plethora of videos to help students learn all about American English pronunciation, including specific sounds you should make, as well as mouth position. New videos are uploaded to the site each week.
- EF podEnglish: With English lessons on this site broken up into five-minute chunks and filtered by skill level, students can fit in a quick lesson through this modular method whenever they have the time.
- Teacher Phil: This page offers lessons in basic English, business English, idioms, and more with Teacher Phil. You’ll learn how to speak with an American accent and use proper English, and even tackle some of the more complex and challenging language rules.
- BBC Learning English’s Channel: Though we previously mentioned BBC’s great website for learning English, their YouTube channel has just as much to offer. Here, students can watch “The Flatmates,” a soap opera made for learning English, as well as learn about different idioms and more.